Causative verbs | The Nasty Guide

The Nasty Guide’s take on the causative, or “the frat-boy lexical problem.”

The Nasty Guide to Nice Writing

Lying about getting laid

by Dirk E. Oldman

The causative in English gives us what I like to call the frat-boy lexical problem.

You see, if you meet a frat boy at a party, he’s probably gonna have a lot to say about how many chicks he’s laying all the time. But you can never be sure how much he’s really laying, and how much he’s just lying.

Now, it’s true, lie and lay aren’t the only intransitive-causative pair in English. But in general the others don’t get confused so much. No one really says Are you gonna fall that tree? Because that tree might fell on you.

But someone might say Are you just gonna lay there, or are you gonna lie that cookbook down and pick up the whipped cream? And especially all sorts of people all the time say lay when they really are supposed to say

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